The Word of the Lord came to us as we met together recently—as we joined the circle of disciples in Jesus’ discourse in Matthew’s Gospel, chapter 5.
The Lord told us so many ways he expected his people—us included—how to order our lives in his kingdom, his good news rule, which replaced the old Mosaic age system. Come and live in the new age of the Messiah, the New Covenant! Yes, we were discovering dynamic, head rockin stuff.
We staggered at the new standards of behaviour he expects from us–the highest of standards and expectations of Jesus for his disciples culminating in the amazing demand : You must be perfect!
We then saw how different his new world order is compared to the old. Over and over he shows what the ancients had laid down and then surprised everyone who heard him with the repeated revolutionary phrase But I say unto you!
We saw how total are his commands for life under his government. Everything seemed counter intuitive, indeed impossible for his listeners and for us today –blessed the poor in spirit, those who mourn, the gentle, who hunger and thirst for righteousness, those persecuted for righteousness’ sake . . .
We were bowled over by commands like when opposed, to rejoice and be glad (literally jump up and down) for your reward in heaven is great, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
What? Were we hearing correctly? Yep.
We reflected on our failures and those of Christendom in general. We began to feel despair and a growing sense of giving up following such demands. How is this all possible? He piles it on.
He’s come to fulfil the old law and the Prophets, though sounds like he’s abolishing them. He spells them out clearly, authoritatively. No question.
Some of us after hearing his majestic, firm but gentle, persuasive words, even began to feel condemnation and guilt. Every time I hear Jesus I feel condemned. Never expected this. Pulls the rug from under my feet.
Then he reminded us of the immeasurable grace of God given us in this new age of Christ with us and the inbuilt power of the Holy Spirit to bear these good fruits within us. We began to catch a glimpse of the long range view Jesus was seeing for us all—we would have his Spirit here on earth and then be together with him in the kingdom of his Father! Forever. We don’t have to water down his words. We must not!
But, as we looked further into his words of love and grace and his open arms to follow him, obey him, we realised that there is NO condemnation as we find ourselves in him, in his embrace and his ‘easy yoke’ (Matthew 11:28-30). We saw that these words are given without any condemnation, but with grace abounding!
Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.
This life so beautiful, the Way so precious, nothing is worth standing in the way of it! Not even if you are the best Aussie Rugby player and stand to forfeit your $4m contract with RU! You would rather sever this from your life than miss this grand Good News and the joy that awaits and a transformed existence!